Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage From Your Hot Water Heater?

Having hot water on demand is something most homeowners take for granted – until there’s a problem. Leaks, bursts, fires and other hot water heater issues can cause extensive damage to your home. When disaster strikes, does homeowners insurance provide coverage?

The short answer is yes, standard homeowners insurance will often cover damage from hot water heater problems. But not all scenarios are covered. Read on to learn more about how homeowners policies handle hot water heater claims.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover for Hot Water Heaters?

There are two main coverage categories that come into play for hot water heater damage:

  • Dwelling Coverage – This part of a homeowners policy pays for damage to the physical structure of the home. It would cover repairs to walls, floors, and other areas damaged by water leaks from the hot water heater.

  • Personal Property Coverage – This pays to repair or replace belongings like furniture and electronics damaged by a hot water heater issue. For example, if a burst tank leaks onto wooden floors and rugs, those would fall under personal property coverage.

Additionally, other coverages like Loss of Use may provide funds for temporary housing if the home is uninhabitable for a time after the hot water heater damage.

The key is that the damage must be sudden and accidental, not long term seepage or deterioration. And it has to result from a covered peril – more details on this below.

What Does Homeowners Insurance NOT Cover for Hot Water Heaters?

While homeowners insurance is designed to cover hot water heater issues stemming from common perils like fires and pipe bursts, not all scenarios are covered. Exclusions to be aware of include:

  • Wear and tear – Gradual leakage or breakdown due to age or corrosion is not covered. The damage has to be sudden.

  • Improper installation – Flaws in original installation or incorrect repairs along the way may void coverage. Proper installation is your responsibility.

  • Lack of maintenance – Failure to properly maintain the tank as recommended by the manufacturer can cause claims to be denied.

  • Mechanical breakdown – Internal failures like a faulty thermostat are not covered perils. You need special equipment breakdown coverage for mechanical issues.

  • Flooding – Damage from floods, including broken pipes from freezing, requires separate flood insurance.

  • Earthquake – Quake damage requires a separate earthquake policy.

  • Overpressure – Damage from excessive water pressure requires special coverage.

  • Water backup – Sewer/drain backup also needs an endorsement for coverage.

  • Non-covered perils – The issue must result from a listed covered peril, which varies by policy but is usually fire, lightning, wind, etc.

If the initial cause of damage is excluded, like wear and tear, subsequent or resulting damage will not be covered either.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage From Tank Failure?

Sudden hot water tank failure can definitely lead to extensive damage. But whether homeowners insurance will pay depends on why the tank failed:

  • If the failure was due to wear and tear or corrosion from age, it would not be covered.

  • If the failure was due to a manufacturer defect, coverage may still be excluded since that should fall under the warranty.

  • If the failure was due to a power surge that damaged the electrical system, leading to an explosion, it would likely be covered.

The peril itself has to be covered, not just the resulting damage. Tank failure due to corrosion or improper maintenance generally wouldn’t be covered.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Replacement of the Water Heater?

One important note – while homeowners insurance will pay for resulting water damage to the home from a failed hot water heater, it typically does not pay for replacing the failed unit itself in a wear and tear situation.

That’s because the hot water heater is considered an appliance or piece of equipment, not part of the physical home structure.

You would need special equipment breakdown coverage to get assistance with replacement costs for a worn out hot water heater. Otherwise, it’s your responsibility to repair or replace a faulty unit.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage From Hot Water Heater Leaks?

Leaks from a hot water heater that cause damage to the home would be covered following the same logic above. If the leak results from a covered peril, the resulting damage is covered. Common examples:

  • Leaks from freezing/burst pipes causing corrosion damage – Covered by homeowners insurance.

  • Leaks due to rust and corrosion over time – Not covered by homeowners insurance since it’s gradual wear and tear.

  • Leaks due to a damaged temperature/pressure valve – Covered by homeowners insurance since it’s sudden mechanical damage.

The cause of the leak has to be accidental and abrupt, not long term seepage. Resulting damage like drywall and floor damage would be covered if that’s the case.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage if the Water Heater Catches Fire?

One of the most hazardous hot water heater issues is when the unit catches fire, often due to flammable vapor ignition. This can definitely lead to immense damage.

In most cases, a flaming hot water heater would be covered by homeowners insurance for a few reasons:

  • Fire is a standard covered peril on most policies.

  • The fire was sudden and accidental, not long term or intentional.

  • The resulting damage was from the fire, not a non-covered initial cause like lack of maintenance.

So the dwelling policy would provide funds to repair fire and smoke damage to the home structure. Personal belongings damaged by the fire and smoke would also be covered.

The key is demonstrating the fire was accidental in nature and not due to negligence that voids coverage.

Tips for Filing a Homeowners Claim for Hot Water Heater Damage

To make the claims process smooth if your hot water heater fails and causes damage, follow these tips:

  • Take detailed pictures and video showing the origin point and spread of damage.

  • Keep any damaged personal property items for potential inspection.

  • Make emergency repairs to prevent further damage. Keep receipts.

  • Note the age of the hot water heater and last maintenance date.

  • Immediately call your insurance company to start the claims process.

  • Provide any fire department or utility inspection reports conducted after the incident.

  • If possible, take photos of the specific faulty component that failed and caused the problem.

  • Ask your insurer for a copy of your policy to understand exclusions.

  • Work promptly with the claims adjuster who inspects the damage to move the process along quickly.

Documenting the damage thoroughly and demonstrating it resulted from an abrupt covered cause rather than long term wear are key for getting hot water heater claims approved.

How Can I Prevent Hot Water Heater Damage?

To avoid the hassle and expense of hot water heater damage, be proactive with these prevention tips:

  • Have a qualified plumber install units properly at the start.

  • Follow all manufacturer maintenance guidelines, like flushing mineral deposits annually.

  • Replace old water heaters that are nearing the 10-12 year mark.

  • Install water leak detection devices that can shut off the main water supply automatically.

  • For gas hot water heaters, make sure your gas lines do not leak.

  • Install overflow pans and drains in case of leakage.

  • Elevate electric hot water heaters above ground level if possible.

  • Ensure temperature and pressure valves work properly.

  • Insulate hot water pipes to avoid freezing and bursting.

Taking preventative measures enhances safety and can help avoid claims from a failed hot water heater down the road.

Outlook for Hot Water Heater Coverage

Looking ahead, experts expect standard homeowners insurance policies to continue covering damage from accidental hot water heater issues in much the same way they do currently.

However, more detailed inspection of root causes may occur, to rule out wear and tear or lack of maintenance as factors. Photos and maintenance records will be even more important for claims.

Higher technology tankless and electric heat pump water heater systems may also see some shifts in coverage specifics down the line. But for now, coverage for water damage from hot water heater failures remains largely intact for standard homeowners policies.

Maintaining adequate dwelling and personal property coverage and taking preventive measures continues to be your best bet for avoiding out of pocket costs when hot water heater problems inevitably occur.

The Bottom Line

While homeowners insurance does not cover wear and tear of the hot water heater itself, it will generally cover accidental damage to your home resulting from issues like leaks, fires and explosions stemming from the unit, provided it’s deemed a covered peril.

Understanding exactly what your policy does and does not cover for hot water heater issues can help you take steps to prevent problems, and get claims approved smoothly if disaster does strike.

Are Hot Water Heaters Covered By Homeowners Insurance


Does homeowners insurance cover hot water heater leak?

As long as you’ve properly maintained the water heater, your homeowners policy would likely cover the water damage. For example, it could pay for new flooring and replace ruined furniture. However, it wouldn’t pay to fix or replace the water heater unless you’ve added equipment breakdown coverage to your policy.

Does age of water heater affect home insurance?

As a result, most insurance companies require their clients to replace their hot water tanks after 10 years; otherwise, they won’t be covered under their homeowners insurance in the event of water damage.

Can you claim heater on insurance?

Your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units may be covered by homeowners insurance if the damage was caused by a covered peril. Dwelling coverage on your homeowners policy may pay to repair the damage, up to your policy’s limits and minus your deductible.

Do water heaters need to be covered?

Most experts agree that heat loss in a gas water heater goes up the flue. Therefore, a blanket accomplishes no purpose for these types of heaters. Some local codes and utility company regulations may prohibit insulation blankets.

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